Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall, in an interview on Kaieteur Radio Wednesday evening, stated that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) collected increase in taxes illegally when they failed to gazette the 10% rates and tax increase back in 2017.
Nandlall, in an interview on Kaieteur Radio’s Room 592, explained that the M&CC can only levy taxes by legislation. He added, however, that taxes can be increased by a mean of subsidiary legislation and this is required to be published in the official gazette.
“A regulation can only take effect upon its publication in the official so the increase can only take effect after it would have been published,” Nandlall said.
Expounding further, he noted that if the official gazette was published in the month of July, it is only from then can the increase take effect. On the contrary however, the Georgetown M&CC had announced back in 2017, that it will be increasing the rates for residential properties and commercial properties by 10%, moreover , the M&CC failed to publish to the order in the official gazette.
The former Attorney General explained that, “You cannot levy taxes retrospectively. That’s a universal principle of law. That would amount to the unlawful deprivation of private property which is protected under the constitution.”
Nandlall explained that in order for the increase to take effect, the publication had to be made in the official gazette of the same year, which the then M&CC, failed to do. He added that any increase charged to taxpayers would be deemed illegal.However, the Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine, in a telephone interview sought to bring about clarity on the situation. Narine stated that the council’s decision in 2016 to increase the taxes in the following year, was legal and in accordance to the Municipal and District Council’s Act, Chapter 28:01.
Narine reiterated also that the Mayor and City Council is an autonomous body with the authority to make decisions in regards to levying tax rates.
“The June 27 Gazetted Order served as a direct reminder of the Council’s decision taken in 2017, wherein, residential and commercial General rates were subjected to 10% increases on the previous rates e.g. from 40% to 44% and 250% to 275% respectively,” Mayor Narine stated.
The Mayor further reiterated that the order does not imply an increase in the current residential and commercial rates and taxes since the current rates remain at 44% and 275% respectively. When asked why the order was only published now, the Mayor responded that since he took office in 2018, it was his intention to set the record straight.
He added that he does not know why the previous council failed to gazette the order, but his Council had decided to do so. Narine also added that there are more orders that have been in effect and not Gazetted, but the M&CC is working towards publishing them.
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